Mower County may refuse ICE requests

Published 10:21am Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mower County is the latest of several Minnesota counties to refuse Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to detain inmates in certain instances.

Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said the county will consider ICE detainer requests on “a case-by-case basis,” similar to the way county officials have operated in the past.

“I am not going to make a blanket refusal if public safety is at risk,” Amazi said. “I don’t want to do a blanket policy because there’s always an exception.”

ICE detainers are requests sent to local law officials to hold inmates for up to 48 hours after they would normally be released. Yet a growing number of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of detainer requests have prompted law enforcement officials across the nation to reconsider ICE requests, which were previously considered mandatory orders from federal officials.

Mower County received 101 ICE detainer requests from October 2011 to August 2013, according to Syracuse University’s TRAC (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse) project.

Nearby, Freeborn County only received 60 in the same period and ICE issued 29 detainers to Steele County.

TRAC records show Minnesota counties with food processing plants or large populations on average received more ICE detainer requests. Then-state demographer Tom Gillaspy said in 2011 that counties with food processing plants tend to attract younger workers and foreign-born residents.

Nobles County, which has Worthington, the JBS plant and about 22,000 residents, received 183 ICE detainers from October 2011 to August 2013. Olmsted County, with more than 140,000 residents, received 180 detainers during that period.

Several Minnesota counties have changed their policies on ICE detainers this summer after a growing number of federal court cases challenging the the constitutionality of detainers. Hennepin and Ramsey counties declared last month they would no longer honor ICE detainer requests without a judge’s order. Olmsted County has since followed suit.

Amazi said Mower officials have treated detainers case by case in the past but county staff discussed making an official policy after the American Civil Liberties Union sent letters to sheriffs across the U.S. in May stressing the recent federal lawsuits. Amazi said the county would honor ICE requests if the inmate had committed serious offenses.

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